What key is this?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by giggedy, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Don't worry, not SHA

    Progression is D > E

    Note choices can easily be seen as D Lydian or E Mixolydian if you want to keep the C# in your pool of notes.

    Got a friend saying it's still in the key of A because you use the same notes as the A major scale. I say it's in either D or E depending on the last chord played or the melody or anything that would give dominance to one chord or the other.

    What say you?
     
  2. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    I further think that you can easily use E Mixolydian b6 over this, and if you harmonize that scale, you get an A minor triad, which kills his argument.
     
  3. RLD

    RLD Member

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    I say A as well.
     
  4. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Member

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    d major triad: d f# a
    e major triad: e g# b

    that g# throws the key of d out the window and that d natural isn't too keen on the key of e. Thus, A.
     
  5. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    But there's no C or C# in either chord, so it doesn't denote A major or minor as a triad. There's no A chord either.

    I could see the key signature of A used to cut down on accidentals, but you could just as easily say it's in F# minor then, right?
     
  6. RLD

    RLD Member

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    Watch starting at :50.

     
  7. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    right, D and E are the 4 and 5 of A, I didn't hear him say that that is what key it's in though.
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    If you think of it as being in A you can double check what you "hear" by playing the chords out to Dmaj7->E7. If that's what you're hearing harmony wise, then it's A for sure, or D Lydian and E Mixolydian if you want to think of it as that.

    But if that harmony is not what you hear, then it's not in A.

    You can also try and flush out your thoughts on the E Mixolydain b6 idea by playing out the harmony to be D7->E7.

    Above all though, it's good to figure out where this progression naturally resolves, or end. If it ends on D, then your ideas mean it's D Lydian or D Lydian Dominant. If it ends on E, then your ideas mean it's E Mixolydian or E Mixolydian b6.

    Another thing I have used forever on a progression that is Major chords a whole step apart is this scale fragment...the notes are based on D and E chords being used...

    D E G# A B

    That little group of notes will sound good as the foundation of what you play. Yes, you can use other notes, you won't get your hands slapped but if you look at those notes, they fit EITHER of the chord/scales ideas listed above. So, if you learn to lean on these notes, D Lydian, D Lydian Dominant, E Mixolydian, and E Mixolydian b6 all end up working in the end.

    So while you base things on D E G# A B you can also play freely by using D E G# A Bb B D Eb E or you can even add in the C# too, D E G# A Bb B C# D Eb E. You can even add C too, D E G# A Bb B C C# D Eb E. But get things firmly planted with D E G# A B before going to the other notes. It's like having multiple levels to play up and down to.

    Just some food for thought, but just in the last year I've had to play extended solo's of this type of progression in two different tunes, one resolving on the high chord and another ending on the lower chord. That same scale nailed it and allowed me to improvise from it pretty freely.
     
  9. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Awesome, thanks Gennation!

    So, it's just depends on how you approach it then? Which would be dictated by the D > E progression's context. So even if it was Dmaj7 > E7, and the last chord is a D, you could say it's in the KEY of D, then right? Bascially, it doesn't matter that you would use the key signature of A, the progression is still in D. Correct?
     
  10. mthomps

    mthomps Member

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    This is how I approach progressions like that.

    Functionally the key those chords belong to is A: as in the IV chord and the V chord respectively. But then you can also say its a I, IImaj in D or bVII, I in E.

    I don't think in modes personally. With a progression open to interpretation the first thing I do is listen for what the rest of the band is playing. I just think about the triad and fill in the other degrees to taste.

    Just to explain myself a little better, the reason I don't think lydian or mixo is because those scales are just A major with a different root. It complicates my thoughts if I'm trying to visualise as separate scales. So I try to "light up" the chord degrees and fill in from there.
     
  11. mthomps

    mthomps Member

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    Well, you can say D but there is a chord tone in E and E7 that falls outside of the key of D. The g#, which would be a #4 in D. Scale wise this is D lydian, but that is actually the key signature A. This is technically speaking though. In a D blues the notes aren't diatonic but when jamming you will here guys say key of D. It's not "technically" D.

    It can be confusing to think of scales while improvising. Try thinking about the chord tones and filling in the notes in between. It may be simpler for you to think this way like it is for me.
     
  12. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    So you're saying that this progression:

    A7 A7 A7 A7
    D7 D7 A7 A7
    E7 E7 A7 A7

    isn't in the key of A?

    I'm not trying to figure out easier ways to think of things, this just goes back to what key progressions are in.
     
  13. dvuksanovich

    dvuksanovich Member

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    ^^^^^ This.

    Your collection of notes puts you in the key of A major, but you obviously don't have A major as your tonal center. This is where the modal thinking can start (D Lydian and E mixolydian would be the appropriate modes... they have the same collection of notes as A major but start and end on D and E, respectively), and if you like approaching your solos that way it can work well for you. Lots of players think this way.

    I'm not a big modes guy, though. I think it's much easier to determine a key (which would be A major in this case) based on the collection of notes and then look at the notes in each chord of the accompaniment... then it's easy to build a solo around the notes in each chord, with the other notes in the scale for connecting the chord tones together, and some outside notes where appropriate.
     
  14. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    How in the world is the key A when that's not the tonal center? i understand it's the key signature of A, but if you were asking a buddy to play with you, would you really say that the progression D > E is in A? That makes no sense, there's no A chord.

    If the chords had their typical functionality, then sure, it's in A, but that progression in itself never resolves to A or even goes to A, making the chords non functional.

    Again, I'm not looking for any advice on how to play over it, I understand what notes make up A major, D lydian, and E mixolydian. I'm trying to get a definition of key.

    If a key is a tonal center, and the chord A isn't used, how is A the tonal center?
     
  15. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    It isn't non-functional at all, because the chords exist in A major (or F# minor which is the same thing) regardless of whether or not you ever play a one chord.

    You could call it whatever you want in order to make things unnecessarily convoluted. Such as bII to bIII in Db. I don't know why you would though.

    I could write three sharps on staff paper and puke on the page, it's still in A major (or F# minor.)
     
  16. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Ok, I just read a bunch about it. If you're playing blues, and someone asks the key, the real question they're asking is "what's the tonal center?" even though someone says it's "in the key of", they're not correctly using the terminology when they tell you that the blues they're about to play is "in the key of Fm" for example when the chord progression is Fm Bbm Cm Fm. That progression is in the key of Ab, even thought the tonal center is Fm.

    I stand corrected, D > E is in the key of A, although I disagree with the logic behind the definition, because you can use a natural C instead of C# there, and that won't give you the A major triad.
     
  17. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Based on what I read, anything that's "in the key of" F# minor is actually just the key of A, and it's just one of those things people say and understand with one another that's technically incorrect.
     
  18. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    Right, they're the same but different.
     
  19. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    Yeah, one of the things I read said something along the lines of "confusing, convoluted, sure, but it is what it is."
     
  20. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    Honest to god, I wouldn't play a session with guys who didn't know that already.
     

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